stc invests further $300 mn to accelerate regional digital champions growth
Saudi Telecom Company (stc) announced during the sixth Future Investment Initiative (FII) that it has committed an additional $300 million on top of its original $500 million to MENA-based tech investment firm STV.
The investment comes to further fuel STV’s mission of backing and scaling the region’s digital champions. STV recently projected that MENA is poised to create 45 unicorns by 2030, presenting a $100 billion value opportunity to be unlocked through local IPOs. STV believes that its first fund will capture a significant part of this accelerating unicorn creation on the back of its investment in champions across sectors that are growing rapidly. STV has already made its mark as a top-quartile emerging markets VC investor and a driving force behind innovation in MENA.
Olayan Alwetaid, the group CEO at stc, mentions: “This further investment reflects stc’s future vision and its significant contribution to the digital transformation and ambitious endeavors towards the digital economy in Saudi Arabia and beyond, as well as it deepens its focus on innovation and technological development in the Kingdom and widens the MENA’s region support and growth from the ground up.”
Al Wetaid added: “Our investments in STV since its launch has achieved great investment returns that were the main catalyst for doubling our participation today. In addition, we seek, through our comprehensive strategy, to provide support and motivation to leading digital companies with the aim of growing and expanding the scope of the group’s investments in modern technical sectors.”
Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, CEO at STV, comments, “We are proud of stc’s vote of confidence by doubling down on STV. This investment is another milestone in STV’s journey to build the tech investment platform of MENA. We believe the region has reached an upward tipping point and has emerged as one of the most attractive regions globally for venture investments.”
Since its start in 2018, STV invested in a portfolio of technology companies across many sectors in the Middle East and North Africa, with a core focus on whitespaces with a gap between digital supply and demand in traditionally large industries such as logistics, e-commerce, and fintech. In order to double down on this opportunity and support its existing portfolio of startups, STV has grown its team to 20+ professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including technology, investments, and operations.
Through this additional commitment, STV looks to cement its position as the most active growth investor in the region and amplify its impact. In 2021, STV drove almost 60 percent of VC deployment in Saudi Arabia and its portfolio companies created thousands of direct jobs and close to 3 million gig jobs, on top of becoming sector winners that expanded across the region and internationally.
With venture capital deployment in MENA significantly increased in recent years, Saudi Arabia is becoming the fastest-growing large VC market in the region with its venture capital market growing 244 percent YoY to $584 million in H1 2022. With Vision 2030 programs fostering digitization and innovation, a robust macroeconomic environment, alongside a significant influx of international institutional capital, the pace of value creation in the Kingdom is only set to accelerate over the coming years.